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The boundary between British 
Guiana and Venezuela 





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THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN BRITISH GUIANA 
AND VENEZUELA, 



By E. F. IM THURN 

Demerara, July, 1879. 



[REPRINTED BY COUNSEL FOR VENEZUELA.] 






APPENDIX. 




MR. im THURN'S PAMPHLET ON THE BOUNDARY 
QUESTION. 

[On Feb. 8, 1878, Seilor F. J. Marmol published at 
Caraccas an article on the boundary question. A transla- 
tion of it was printed as an appendix to Mr. Boddam-Wit- 
ham's "Roraima and British Guiana," London, 1879. To 
this Mr. im Thurn made a reply which was noticed in 
Nature for Oct. 16, 1879, Vol. 20, p. 581, as follows : 

" The boundary between British Guiana and Venezuela Nature, Oct. 

• t-> 16,1879. 

is a very vexed question, and in consequence oi Mr. Bod- 
dam-Whetham having included in his recent work some 
notes on it from a Venezuelan source, Mr. E. F. im Thurn, 
a well-known authority on matters relating to British 
Guiana, has gone carefully into the matter. He has just 
embodied the results of his investigations in a little brochure, 
which contains a o-ood deal of a-eooraphical information. 
Mr. im Thurn regards the following as the best settlement 
of the question. The month of the Morooca should be 
taken as the northernmost point of our colony, and from 
there to the old Dutch post on the Cuyuni, the boundary 
should be as in Cordazzi's map. Thence it should be car- 
ried to the nearest point of the Mazaruni, and then up the 
course of that river to the junction of the Eiver Cako, and 
along the latter river to Mt. Roraima. From that central 
and well-marked point, southward to the source of the 
Corentyne, and then northward along the course of that 
river, it should follow the line laid down in Sir R. 
Schomburgk's map . " 

Mr. im Thurn's article was first published in The Royal 
Gazette of July 26 and July 31, 1879, at Demerara, and 



I APPENDIX. 

was afterwards republished in a pamphlet with no change 
except a few verbal corrections. We tile an original with 
the Commission. 

Mr. im Mr. im Thurn is an English M. A., went to the colony in 

1877 as a naturalist under the auspices of Sir Joseph Hooker, 
is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, was at one 
time editor of Timehri, the principal periodical of the 
colony, and has distinguished himself by a number of explora- 
tions of the, far interior, for the last of which the Royal 
Society the Royal Geographical Society and the British 
Association contributed £200 each. In 1882, by appoint- 
ment of the Home Government, he became the magistrate, 
and, subsequently, the ruler with almost absolute power, 
of the region between the Pomeroon and Barima Point, and 
has exercised such functions to the present day with great 
energy and good sense, and to universal approbation. 

There are matters in his pamphlet which we do not agree 
with. He, naturally, does not meet Seilor Marmol's legal 
positions by a strict legal argument. If he had then realized 
what he afterwards learned to his cost, that the eastern 
mountain arm of Roraima is a great natural barrier (p. , 
supra), he would not have passed it over in order to take the 
Mazeruni which skirts its northern cliffs as the scientific 
boundary nearest to the Essequibo. This mountain range 
is now adopted by the English as the boundary of a district. 

'Mr. im But this article is that of an Englishman of approved 

Tliuni . . i'ii i ii-ii 

approves the judgment, m strong sympathy with the colony, published 

Morooca line. * 

there, and, so far as we know, not there combated by an} r 
one. It is written in a pre-eminently fair and temperate 
tone. His conclusion is that the Dutch and English occu- 
pation in no way justifies a claim to the Barima region or to 
the Cuyuni basin. Great Britain must make out a very clear 
case in order to overcome the weight of Mr. im Th urn's 
judgment. 



[Mr. im Thurn's pamphlet, July, 1879.] 
[ The side notes are not in the original."] 

THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN BRITISH GUIANA AND 
VENEZUELA. 

Some articles on this question, originally published in F. j.Marmoi's 

article of 

" La Opinion National " of Venezuela, by Francisco J. Feb., 1878. 
Marmol, having now been reprinted at Caracas, in pamphlet 
form, at the National Printing Office, in what is called an 
" official edition " have been translated by Mr. Boddam- 
Wetham — who visited this colony in the early part of 1878, 
and who went from here to Caracas — as an appendix to his 
recently published book entitled " lioraima and British 
Guiana." As this boundary question is of considerable impor- 
tance, it seems desirable that the British Government, which 
at least twice in the last forty years, has found its efforts to 
obtain a settlement of the question baffled by its inability to 
obtain the practical co-operation of the Venezuelan authori- 
ties, should seize the present opportunity, when public atten- 
tion in Venezuela is directed to the matter, and when, 
apparently j if this pamphlet is really issued officially, the 
Government of that Republic are able and anxious to give 
the necessary co-operation to decide the matter once for all. 
Some account of this pamphlet and of the whole question 
should, therefore, be not uninteresting to all concerned in 
the colony of British Guiana. 

The writer of the pamphlet is, as appears on the title page, 
a lawyer ; and it may be inferred from a passage in the 
text, that he was in 1857 the Governor of the Venezuelan 
province of Guiana . How far he writes with official authority 
is not very certain ; but it is possible from the words " official 
edition" and "national printing press" which, as already 
stated, appear on the title page, that he does not write solely 
in his private capacity. 



MR. IM THURNS BOUNDARY PAMPHLET 



Venezuelan 
mines, 1857. 



English set- The territory in dispute commences on the western bank 
finedftothe °^" the Essequibo River, and extends to an undefined distance 
toward the Orinoco. Along and near the banks of the 
Essequibo is a fairly dense population of English subjects, 
at least during the lower part of its course, and along and 
near the banks of the Orinoco is a tolerably thick population 
of Venezuelans : but the intermediate space is inhabited only 
by some scattered Indians, and is visited only at long inter- 
vals by a few travellers, traders, adventurers or explorers. 
The land is chiefly low-lying swamp, and is covered with 
dense forest ; and, though a few rivers, the Pomeroon, the 
Morooca, the Waini or Guiana and the Barima, with their 
tributaries, run through it to the sea, yet none of these are 
of any great size, length, or importance. 

This district being claimed both by the Venezuelans and 
by the English, neither is able to advance in it without 
offending the other, It must, however, be admitted that 
the complaints of aggression have as yet been made chiefly 
by the Venezuelans. Several instances are quoted by Mar- 
mol. One of these is the well-known case of the gold mines 
of the Cuyuni River, which occurred in 1857-8. Marinol, 
w 7 ho at the time was " managing the government of the 
Province of Guiana " — in which province much of the 
course of the Cuyuni is situated — says that at that time, 
the gold mines of Tupuqueu, on the river Yuruari, a trib- 
utary of the Cuyuni, having been recently discovered and 
attracting a good deal of attention, he had to resist new and 
exaggerated claims made by the Governor of Demerara 
(Mr., since Sir, Philip Wodehouse), and that it was even 
officially maintained that these auriferous regions were 
within the limits of British Guiana ; and that, under this 
false impression, expeditions were authorized, and explor- 
ing licenses were granted to engineers in the name of the 
British Government. 



OF 1879. 5 

That is the Venezuelan view of the case; the English is l£ e English 
somewhat different. In 1857, certain English expeditions Venezuela! 
were, indeed, sent to Tupuquen, but their sole result was a totheYuruari 
tardy acknowledgment from the English that the miues at re s ion - 
that place were not in British territory. In or about 1863, 
certain gold mines on the Cuyuni River, at a distance of 
about two days' journey from its mouth, were worked by an 
English company formed in Georgetown ; no serious attempts 
to wash for gold were made higher up the Cuyuni by any 
English subjects. But these English mines are very far from 
those of Tupuquen, which are at a distance of, roughly speak- 
ing, at the very least, twenty or thirty days' journey from the 
mouth of the Cuyuni. Tupuquen undoubtedly lies very far 
on the Venezuelan side of the boundary as claimed by the 
English and as laid down by Sir Robert Schomburgk. Had 
we, therefore, claimed the mines at that place it would have 
been most unwise and unwarrantable. But we made no 
such claim,. and Marmol's attempt to quote such a claim as 
an act of aggression on our part must be based on a mis- 
take. But he makes the statement in such apparent good 
faith as to suggest the idea that possibly, not only his state- 
ment, but the action of the Venezuelan Government, was 
founded on a mistake which has never yet been rectified. 
It is just possible that the Venezuelan Government, hearing 
some rumor that the English were working gold on the 
Cuyuni, hastity adopted the conclusion that this was in the 
neighborhood of Tupuquen, and within their territory. 
However this may have been, they appealed to the British 
Government to stop the alleged invasion of their territory ; 
and the British Government having given notice to the Gold 
Mining Company that they must work only as adventurers 
and not claim British protection, the works were abandoned. 
Marmol then enumerates two among many other alleged 
acts of aggression by the British Government. " In the 



b MR. IM THURN'S BOUNDARY PAMPHLET 

vicinit}' of the river Amacura, a navigable and important 
ahHuent of the Orinoco, emptying to the west of the river 
Barium, there exists an Indian village belonging to the dis- 
trict of Curiapo, Department of Zea. On taking our last 
census, in 1874, some British subjects from Demerara, who 
trade with those Indians, claimed the non-incorporation of 
that village in the census of the Republic, under the pretext 
that it is under the jurisdiction of the government of Deme- 
rara. Fortunately our commissioner for taking the census 
energetically opposed the claim, and the Indian village was 
incorporated in it." And again, "an Indian of the Morooca, 
(a river which undoubtedly belongs to us, as it rises and 
empties in our territory), having committed a murder, was 
taken to Demerara to be tried. The defendant's lawyer 
demurred on the ground of the incompetency of that tri- 
bunal, because the crime had been committed in Venezuelan 
territory." 
Trouble from Now, as regards the first of these charges, the river 

conflicting . . ,. ,-, . . , . , . , , 

claims. ' Amacura is, according to bchomburgk, the boundary be- 
tween Venezuela and British Guiana. Therefore, whether 
the Indian village in question ought or ought not to have 
been included in the Venezuelan census, depends upon 
which bank of the river it is on, and upon the unsettled 
question of the legitimacy of our claim, to establish that 
river as our boundary. Again, as regards the second case, 
the river Morooca lies far within the English boundaries as 
laid down by Schomburgk, and actually forms the boundary 
which the British Government was willing to allow to the 
Venezuelans ; for, though claiming the land westward of the 
Morooca to the river Amacura, yet the English were ready 
to yield that to the Venezuelans in return for the cession of 
all Venezuelan claims to the lower course of the Cuyuni. 
Moreover, it is perhaps worth mentioning that in the case 
alluded to it was not an Indian belonging to the Morooca 



OF 1879. ( 

who was seized and brought to trial in Georgetown, but 
a criminal of European extraction, who had tied to the 
Morooca to escape the consequences of a crime committed 
in Demerara. So that from any point of view the British 
action was, not the seizure of a Venezuelan subject in Ven- 
ezuelan territory, but the seizure of one of its own subjects 
in territory which it claims. The importance of this distinc- 
tion rests on the fact that it is a common thing for our 
criminals to fly by way of the Morooca to the Orinoco ; and 
that, in the absence of an extradition treaty with Venezuela, 
it is, therefore, important to seize fugitive criminals in all 
territory which can be presumed to be British. 

These instances are sufficient to show the very unsatisfac- 
tory nature of the conflicting claims to this territory. As 
Marmol points out, " there exists a constant and frequent 
commercial intercourse between the English settlements of 
Demerara and the interior. . . . The Indian inhabitants of 
this district are provided with all kinds of goods for their 
clothing, with powder and arms for their hunting, which 
they obtain either from the English colonists who come to 
trade with them, or o-et for themselves when travelling to 
Demarara. . . . The Eno-lish lanjniao-e is no longer unknown 
to many of those Indians." 

Various attempts have been made by both nations to settle Delays on 

. . , . both sides in 

these conflicting claims, but, unfortunately, no simultaneous seeking an 

i -i-iti i • • r\ adjustment. 

attempt has yet been made Whenever the British Govern- 
ment have been prepared to negotiate, the Venezuelans have 
been careless in the matter ; or, being in the midst of some 
one of their numerous revolutions, have been unable to 
attend to it. The attention of the Venezuelan Government 
was, according to the pamphlet now before us, first drawn 
to this question in 1841, when, in consequence of Sir Robert* 
Schomburgk's expedition and attempt to fix the boundary, a 
boundary treaty was submitted by the English Government 



8 MR. IM THURN'S BOUNDARY PAMPHLET 

to that of Venezuela. But the Venezuelans, though at first 
apparently prepared to enter into negotiations, soon broke 
them off, and the matter remained in abeyance till 1N44, 
when the Venezuelans suggested, but did not offer, a boun- 
dary line which would have been altogether acceptable to the 
British Government. Again, in 1857, when the question of 
the Cuyuni gold mines, already alluded to, arose, the 
Venezuelans were immediately anxious to have the boun- 
daries determined ; but the English were then in no hurry 
about the matter. Then, when about a year afterwards the 
Governor of British Guiana was directed to go to Caraccas 
to obtain a settlement, the Venezuelans were in the midst of 
a revolution, and no one with sufficient authority could be 
found to act on their behalf. So the matter once more 
dropped. Now the Venezuelans seem once more anxious to 
raise the question. 
a difficulty. Marmol points out the real difficulty in certain somewhat 
complex sentences. It is, briefly, that there exists no possi- 
ble natural " scientific frontier." At no point between the 
Orinoco and the Essequibo is there any great and long river, 
or any continuous range of mountains which might serve as 
an easily recognizable and indisputable boundary. But 
several different boundary lines have been under considera- 
tion at various times by one side or the other. 

The latest, which we will now describe, is the A r enezuelan 
Venezuela 

chums the claim brought forward in this pamphlet. The writer claims 
Essequibo c ' L 

line - the Essequibo, from its mouth to the junction of the 

Rupununi, as the boundary. This, according to him, is a 
generous and liberal claim on the part of Venezuela : for he 
says "it is indisputable that our boundaries extend beyond 
the Essequibo. Such was the . . . dominion of Spain, such 
"is ours, as their legitimate successors. . . . Our limits extend 
beyond the Essequibo up to the limits of French Guiana. . . . 
Spain as the first discoverer and first occupier, of whose 



OF 1879. 9 

rights we are the legitimate successors, alway maintained her Venezuela 

claims the 

boundary lines beyond that river. Holland . . . only held Essequiiio 

line. 

in Guiana what Spain, the discoverer and first occupier, had 
seen fit to permit her." 

Let us see what proof is brought forward in support of 
this somewhat startling assertion of the right to claim the 
whole of British and Dutch Guiana. Venezuela claims as 
hers all that was once Spanish Guiana. And Marmol says 
that there exists a map of the province of Cumana which 
was sent to Spain in 17(31 by the Governor Don Jose Dibuja 
in which "the province of Guiana is bounded on the east by 
all the coast in which are situated the Dutch colonies of 
Essequibo, Berbice, Demerara, Corentyne and Surinam ; 
from which it is clearly deduced that Spain considered these 
possessions as Dutch colonies established on territory belong- 
ing to her." But this wonderful map goes even further than 
Marmol claims, for it proves that Spanish Guiana was 
bounded " on the south by the dominions of the very faithful 
king of Brazils," so that Venezuela might, and it would, claim 
French Guiana also. This is a fair sample of the sort of evi- 
dence on which Marmol would base his country's claim. 

But, according to him, the Venezuelans should be moder- 
ate, and should claim only the land which lies on the west of 
the Essequibo. ''There is no kind of reason whatever for 
the (British) supremacy which is claimed over the Esse- 
quibo. In almost all its course we dwell on the bank, and 
it may be said to rise in our territory. We have, then, at 
least, an indisputable claim to one half of its width and to 
its navigation." The right of the Republic of Venezuela to 
the land on the eastern side of the Essequibo (as far as 
French Guiana, or even Brazil) is, he urges, incontrovert- 
ible ; but, voluntarily giving up that, the}' must claim all on 
the west bank. " Every other demarcation compromises the 
integrity of our [?'. e., Venezuelan] territory, which should 



10 MR. IM TH URN'S BOUNDARY PAMPHLET 

be defended on its eastern bank* by the basin of that river.'' 
And the English themselves, the writer argues, have ac- 
knowledged this claim, in that, in 1840, Great Britain conir 
municated to the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs 
the commission which had been given to Schomburgk to 
explore the Essequibo and mark its limits, thus showing 
that she did not then claim, as she now does, exclusive 
possession of that river, and that she admitted the equal 
right of the Venezuelan republic to its w T aters. 
why the The eagerness with which the claim to all the land between 

line^hn- the Orinoco and the Essequibo is pressed, may at first sight 
Venezuela seem somewhat strange, seeing that it is not made with any 
immediate prospect or wish to colonize the land in question. 
But in several passages it is explained that the writer thinks 
that only by making the Essequibo the boundary of Vene- 
zuela can all chance of British advance toward the Orinoco be 
prevented. 

The nature of the district in dispute between Venezuela 
and British Guiana, and with the claim set up by Francisco 
Marmol,f on behalf of the Venezuelans, to all the land on 
the western side of the Essequibo, has now been explained. 
This claim was founded on the assumption that the whole of 
Guiana — the w T hole, that is, of the land between the Ori- 
noco and the Amazon — belonged originally to Spain; and 
that the Venezuelans, as inheritors from Spain, if they do 
not claim the whole of this, are at least fully justified in 
claiming so much as appears to them convenient to secure 
their possession of the Orinoco. According to Marmol, 



* \_Note by counsel for Venezuela. "Bank" is evidently a misprint; 
"flank " is Senor Marmot's word.] 

t Some correspondence between the English representative in Vene- 
zuela and Francisco Marmol, on the subject of the English expeditions to 
Tupuquen, in 1857, was published in the colonial newspapers of that 
year. In this Marmol's name was invariably misprinted Manuol. 



OF 1879. 11 

this object can be secured only by the extension of Vene- 
zuela to the Essequibo. 

Beside this boundary claimed by Marmol, three other 
lines of demarcation have, at various times, been proposed 
by England or by \ T enezuela. These must now be dis- 
cussed. 

The matter seems not to have attracted the attention of schomburgk 

.,. ,, . . . i j-n i j_ -i nor a r\ line, marked 

either of the governments concerned till between 18,55-40. n his final 
During those years Robert, afterwards Sir Robert, Schom- jn Brown's 
burgk, was employed by the British Government to explore ami" Stan-' 
and point out the most convenient boundaries between 1875, as u ex- 
British Guiana and Brazil, on the one hand, and the for- ,„]<% before'the 
mer country and Venezuela on the other. At present we eminent or- 
have only to deal with the Venezuelan boundary. Schom- altered. 
burgk marked the boundary as conceived by him in a map 
which, after lying unpublished for some thirty years, formed 
the basis of the geological map published in 1873, by Charles 
Barrington Brown, and which was itself published in 1877 
(though dated 1875) under the auspices of the Government 
of British Guiana. Either this last published map or 
Brown's geological map may be consulted with a view to 
ascertaining the boundaries which seemed most suitable to 
Schomburgk. Doubtless recognizing the fact that England 
claims so much of Guiana as was in the possession of their 
predecessors, the Dutch, Schomburgk took as the most 
northern or rather northwestern point of British Guiana 
the site of an old Dutch post which, according to von 
Bouchenroeder's chart, published in 1798, existed at the 
mouth of the Amacura, a river which runs into the mouth 
of the Orinoco, a little to the west of the Barima ; and from 
there southward he traces the western limit of British 
Guiana, first along the course of the Amacura, and then 
along certain natural features which, unsatisfactory as thej^ 
are for the purpose, seemed to him the best available. 



12 MR. IM THURN'S BOUNDARY PAMPHLET 

The alleged This post on the Amacura, which may be said to be the 
doesnot^us* n01 'theiTi starting point from which Schomburgk drew his 
llsh daim'to" nne ' cai1 ' however, hardly have been one of the regular 
that pomt. outposts which the Dutch, from their central position in 
the colonies of Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice, estab- 
lished on what they supposed to be the outskirts of their 
possessions in Guiana. Its very existence is doubtful, for 
it is not shown anywhere but in Bouchenroeder's chart. In 
Hartsinck's map, published in 1770, there is no indication 
of any such settlement, and the boundary line of the 
" Wildekuste " — which name was applied to the tract co- 
extensive with the Dutch possessions — falls far south of 
the Amacura. But there is yet stronger evidence for the 
fact that the Dutch, at the close of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, did not consider that their territory extended so far 
Pinckard's towards the Orinoco. Pinckard, whose writings should have 
Letters, 1781. au thority, and who came to Guiana in 1781, in the fleet 
which under Sir George Rodney first took Guiana from the 
Dutch, distinctly says in his admirable letters on Guiana, 
that the most northern outpost of the Dutch colonies at 
the time of their first capture by the English was on the 
Morooca. The " Ancien poste Hollandals " marked in Bouch- 
enroeder's map is very possibly one of the posts established 
by the first Dutch who came to Guiana, about the end of 
the sixteenth century, when, according to tradition, they 
tried to settle on the Orinoco, before finally taking up their 
position on the Pomeroon and Essequibo. Upon the whole, 
Schomburgk's claim, based upon the suppose existence of 
this Dutch post, to make the Amacura serve as part of the 
western boundary of British Guiana, seems untenable. At 
any rate, it never was and never could be admitted by the 
Venezuelans, who if they granted so much would be grant- 
ing us the possession, not only of the. whole sea coast 
between the Essequibo and the Orinoco and of the land for 



OF 1879. 13 

a long distance back from the coast, but also — and herein 
would be the chief sting to them — of a part, however 
small, of the southern bank of the Orinoco. 

A boundary treaty, based on the survey by Schomburgk, Venezuela 

could not 

was proposed in 1841, bv the British Government ; but, as be expected 

to accept 

was to be expected, it was not accepted bv the Venezuelan Schom- 

burgk's line. 

authorities. 

While Schomburgk was yet maturing his scheme, a large 
and tine map of Venezuela was published in 1840, at Caraccas 
by Agustin Cordazzi. This map is so often referred to by 
the Venezuelans that it seems to be regarded as not without 
authority. How far it is official is not clear. It was dedi- 
cated to the Constitutional Congress of Venezuela of 1830. 
Marmol says " the map of Cordsizzi is not an official map. Coniazzi's 

map, 18-10. 

There is no act of competent authority which declares it 
such ; on the contrary, our government has lately rejected 
claims from the government of New Granada for possessions 
on the bank of the Orinoco, founded on his demarcation." 
This denial of the authority of the map reads almost like an 
admission that it has sometimes, even in Venezuela, been 
regarded as of official authority. No competent act has, 
indeed, declared it such : but claims to land based on this 
map have been considered by the Venezuelan government as 
not unworthy of consideration. Remembering the frequency 
and rapidity with which revolutions take place and new 
governments are set up in Venezuela, it seems not improba- 
ble that of the successive governments some have accepted, 
some have rejected, the authority of Cordazzi's map. And 
at any rate it was drawn up by the man who of all Venezue- 
lans has done most for, and knew most about, the geography 
of his country. It is, therefore, desirable to examine the 
boundary laid down by Cordazzi. 

Cordazzi places the boundary on the coast of the Atlantic 
between the two colonies at the Morooea. This is in accor- 



14 MR. IM THURN'S BOUNDARY PAMPHLET 

The Morooca dance with the statement of Pinckard, already alluded to, 
with Pinck- according to which the most northern outpost of the Dutch 
colonies was on that river. Starting from this Dutch post 
on the Morooca, Cordazzi carries the boundary along the 
course of that river to its source in the mountain range 
called Sierra de lmataca, then southward, along the crest of 
that range, to the point nearest to the old Dutch outpost on 
the Cuyuni River, and from there in a straight line up to 
that outpost. Up to this point there is no reason why the 
British Government should not accept Cordazzi's line, which 
is based both on history and natural features. But after 
that, he carries it along the southern bank of the Cuyuni, 
and of the united streams of the Cuyuni and Mazaruni, to 
the point at which Bartica Grove now stands, and then up 
the whole course of the Essequibo as far as the junction of 
the Rupununi. This line, from the Cuyuni to the Rupunuui, 
could never be accepted by the British Government; for it 
would cut off from British Guiana, not only Bartica Grove, 
but a tract of country of many thousand square miles in 
extent in which there are a considerable number of British, 
but not a single Venezuelan settler. However, no definite 
offer of this boundary line seems ever to have been made by 
the Venezuelan Government. 
Venezuela It appears, however, that about that time, in 1840 and the 

bi'e^ following years, the Venezuelan Government were inclined 

to be reasonable in the matter. This appears, not only from 
the map by Cordazzi, but from the following statement made 
by Marmol : " Guided by the design of putting an end to 
this question of boundaries, our Government Council in 1S44 
submitted for discussion a proposal for a dividing line which 
should be offered to Great Britain. It began at the mouth 
of the river Morooca, following the course of that river up 
to its source. Thence it drew a meridian which, crossing 
the Cuyuni, went up to the Pacaraima range, which divides 



OF 1879. 15 

the waters of the Essequibo from those of the Bio Branco.* 
This line is yet more liberal than that proposed by Cordazzi. 
It would give us, as would Cordazzi, all the country settled 
by English-speaking people, and would also give us, as 
Cordazzi would not, much of the course of the Cuyuni, 
together with a large tract of land on the western bank of 
the Upper Essequibo, between that river and the Pacaraima 
mountains. Apparently, however, the Government Coun- 
cil did not approve of this suggestion, and did not make the 
proposed offer. The Venezuelan objection to the line was, 
according to Marmol, that it would leave the lower course of 
the Essequibo in sole possession of the British, and would 
thus virtually give them command of its navigation. 

Yet another dividing line was proposed, this time by the Lord Aber . 
British Government — 4i A line that should go from the of i844 hDe 
mouth of the Morooca to the point at which the river 
Barama unites with the Guiana : thence by the Barama up 
the stream as far as the Aunama, which would be ascended 
up to the place where this stream approaches nearest to the 
Acarabici, and following this river to its confluence with the 
Cuyuni ; then continuing by this last, up stream, till it 
arrives at the high lands in contact with Koraima range, by 
which the waters which flow from the Essiquibo are divided 
from those which run into the Rio Branco." This, which, 
though it would give to the Venezuelans the territory between 
the Orinoco and the Morooca, would take from them the 
course of the Cuyuni, much of which should, undoubtedly, 
belong to them, was an extraordinary suggestion, if, as ap- 

° . J &fc > L Lord Aber- 

pears, it was prepared as likely to be more agreeable to the deen claimed 

too much in 

Venezuelans than was Schomburgk's suggestion But it is the Cuyuni 

basin. 

unnecessary to discuss its merits, for its unscientific char- 
acter is well indicated in the following remark made about 



*\_Note by counsel for Venezuela. Marmot's original shows that the 
quotation closes here.] 



16 MR. IM THURN'S BOUNDARY PAMPHLET 

it by Mr. Boddani-Wetham. " It seems to have escaped the 
notice both of the proposers, and those to whom it was pro- 
posed, that by no possible means could a line following the 
Cuyuni River reach the Roraima range or anywhere near it/' 

The truce These various unsatisfactory propositions having been 

made between the years 1840 and 1845, the matter seems 
once more to have dropped for a time. In 1850 an agree- 
ment was made between the two governments, according 
to which " neither is allowed to encroach upon territory 
claimed by both; an agreement which has been entirely dis- 
regarded by both sides." Between 1852 and 1855, some 
discussion of the question seems to have taken place in 
London between Lord Aberdeen, who was then Prime Min- 
ister, and the then Venezuelan Consul Fortique, during 
which the latter made certain offers and statements appar- 
ently based on the map of Cordazzi, which he regarded as 
official. But these offers were afterward repudiated by the 
Venezuelan Government as unauthorized by them. 

Caratai In 1857 the gold mines of Tupuquen attracted labourers 

from far and wide. Immediately a true gold fever set in in 
British Guiana. Guiana was supposed to be a second Cali- 
fornia, if, indeed, it were not richer. There appeared to be 
no small danger that the whole population would move to 
the gold country. Exploring expeditions were sent by the 
Court of Policy, by the merchants, and were undertaken by 
private 'enterprise. The newspapers were full of glowing 
accounts of the new riches. The true El Dorado had, at 
last, been discovered. At last three facts were discovered 
which somewhat cooled the ardour of the gold-dreamers. 
In the first place, the Venezuelans, naturally enough, ob- 
jected to our numerous English prospecting expeditions 
far into their territory. Then, there appeared to be great 
danger that the greater part of the labourers on the sugar 
estates would desert to the gold mines. And lastly, those 



OF 1879. 17 

who visited the mines sent back very discouraging accounts 
of their condition and wealth. 

At last it became evident that the gold helds yet discov- caratai mines 
ered were all within Venezuelan territory, a fact which venL^eian 
might have been before discovered at any moment by refer- ein oiy ' 
ring to Schomburgk's map. Then the people of the English 
colony turned their attention to discovering gold within their 
own territory. At last, some time before 18(53, gold was 
discovered on the Cuyuni, at a point but two days' journey 
from the mouth of that river, and far on the English side, 
not only of Schomburgk's boundary line, but also of that 
laid down by Cordazzi. About the middle of 1863 the Cuyuni mine 

near mouth of 

British Guiana Gold Mining Company was formed to work river, i860. 
these fields. Buildings and machinery were erected on the 
spot, and some gold was extracted. News of these facts 
having reached the Venezuelan Government, they treated us 
as we had treated them in 1857. Then, we had made some 
show of claiming their gold mines of Tupuquen, and now 
they laid claim to ours near the mouth of the Amacura.* 
They appealed to the British Government, which, instead of 
once for all settling the boundary, and so putting an end to 
these constant disputes, issued a proclamation to the English 
gold miners that they were working as adventurers, in dis- 
puted territory, and that they were to expect no protection England's 

warning to 

from the British Government. The wonderful nature of this English 

adventurers, 

proclamation, dated in January, 1867, can only be under- 1867. 
stood by remembering that in 1857 we had at least tacitly, 
as indeed we were in justice bound to do, acknowledged 
our error in claiming the mines of Tupuquen, as being on 
the Venezuelan side of Schomburgk's line, and that the gold 
fields which we now claimed were not only far on our side 
of Schomburgk's line, but were so near our Penal Settlement 

* \_Note by counsel for Venezuela. This should be Cuyuni.'] 



18 MR. IM THURN'S BOUNDARY PAMPHLET 

that to allow the uncertainty of the English claim to the sold 
field was virtually to allow the uncertainty of our claim to 
the Penal Settlement. But regardless of these considera- 
tions, the proclamation was issued in 18(37, to the dismay 
and great loss of the Gold Company. Possibly that com- 
pany would have made more energetic opposition to the 
proclamation, but that its affairs were unfortunately at the 
time not very flourishing. The surface gold at the place of 
their tirst operations had been exhausted, and the manage- 
ment at the mines had been very loose. 

Two efforts were made by the company to induce the 
British government to settle this territorial question. In 
the first place, a murder having been committed at the Penal 
Settlement, which, according to the convention of 1850, and 
the proclamation of 1867, cannot be certainly regarded as 
within British territory, the company employed counsel for 
the accused to put in a plea of want of jurisdiction, the crime 
having been committed in disputed territory. The plea was 
of course overruled, but, equally of course, inconsistently. 
And in the second place, a petition and remonstrance against 
the proclamation was forwarded, through the Court of Policy, 
to the Home Government. No answer to this petition was 
ever published ; but it was privately rumoured that it was 
refused, partly having regard to on the place that certain 
well-known prejudices on the part of the Government of the 
United States,* the English Government were unwilling 
to enter into any dispute as to boundaries on the American 
continent. So after these feeble protests the Gold Company 
disappeared. 

And now after forty years of nerveless attempts to settle 
this question, the history of which has now been given, the 
governments concerned are as far as ever from any satisfac- 



*\_Note by counsel for Venezuela. Thus iu the original obviously it 
should read, "partly on the plea that having regard to certain ** etc.] 



OF 1879. 19 

tory agreement. Yet the matter is important to both sides, 
and especially important to Great Britain. If the Venezuelan 
claims, together with certain similar, but though far smaller, importance of 

' O ~ the boundary 

claims made by Brazil, were admitted in their fullest extent, question. 
the area of British Guiana would be reduced from some 
76,000 square miles to less than 14,000 square miles. Nor 
is this large tract, which would be lost to the English colony, 
merely waste and unexplored forest and savannah. It in- 
cludes the whole of the Essequibo coast, one of the largest, 
most cultivated, and not the least fertile tracts of the colony ; 
it includes the whole of the western bank of the Essequibo 
Biver, which from the mouth to its first falls, some sixty 
miles above, is more or less thickly peopled by British sub- 
jects, and from which a large part of the wood used in, and 
exported from, the colony is obtained ; and it includes the 
large and nourishino- convict settlement on the Mazaruni, the 
establishment of which has been accomplished at no little 
cost. Even that part of the tract which is now merely un- 
used savannah and forest might at any time acquire great 
value by the discovery in it of valuable vegetable or mineral 
produce, or even merely by the adoption of an adequate 
system of woodcutting. When that time comes, when the 
interior of the colony is turned to account, the difficulty of 
settling the boundaries will be much increased. Moreover, 
while formerly all efforts to determine the matter were 
frustrated by the impossibility of obtaining the continued 
co-operation of Venezuela, the Venezuelans are, at the pres- 
ent tinis, not only ready to co-operate, but determined to 
press the matter ; and while fully recognizing the fact that 
they are unable to force a settlement with England by force 
of arms, they ask for the appointment of a body of arbi- 
trators. This request should surely be granted. For it is 
quite time for the British Government to undertake the 
question with full determination to carry it to a conclusion. 



20 MK. IM thurn's boundary pamphlet 

And while settling the boundary which is to divide this 
colony from Venezuela, it would be as well at the same 
betwisn* tmie to settle that which is to divide it from Brazil ; so that 
Guiana and the colony of British Guiana may be compact, and may, at 
toT.e'settiecL ^ as "t? know its own extent. Indeed, the two questions, that 
of the Brazilian and the Venezuelan frontiers, must be set- 
tled at one and the same time ; for some of the territory on 
the western bank of the upper Essequibo is claimed by all 
three colonies. Marmol publishes extracts from a treaty 
made between Venezuela and Brazil in which those two 
colonies distribute to themselves the lands between the 
Pacaraima mountains and the Essequibo which are claimed 
by Great Britain and which, so far as they are or have 
been inhabited at all, are and have been inhabited by English 
subjects. 

The boundary between British Guiana and Brazil might 
be much more easily determined than that between the 
former colony and Venezuela. For the land claimed by the 
Brazilians is a waste which has never been really occupied 
by any nation, and very far from either Brazilian or English 
settlements ; so that, there being no historical grounds for 
preferring one boundary to another, it would only be neces- 
sary to find out which of the natural features of the country 
affords the most marked dividing line. This line would 
almost certainly be found to be that laid down by Sir Robert 
Schomburgk. But unfortunately, his survey having been 
made without any reference to the Brazilian authorities, the 
latter, as was to be expected, were unwilling to accept it. 
A mixed commission appointed by the powers concerned 
would doubtless settle the boundary between British Guiana 
and Brazil without much trouble. 
ThcMarooca The rnost convenient boundaries of British Guiana, and 
coasT-iinT those which history and convenience give us every right to 
AvithVene- claim, would be as follows: Taking the mouth of the 



OF 1879. 21 

Morooca as the northernmost point of colony, the boundary peia, accord- 

1 " J nig to the 

from there to the site of the old Dutch outpost on the author. 
Cuynni should be as in Cordazzi's map. From there it The author 

considers that 

should be carried in a straight line to the nearest point of Great Britain 

is not entitled 

the Mazaruni, and then up the course of that river to the to any part 

of the (Juyuni 

junction of the river Cako, and along the Cako to Roraima. basin. 
From that central and well-marked point southward to the 
source of the Corentyne, and then northward along the 
course of river, it should follow the line as laid down in 
Schomburgk's map. These boundaries would best com- 
promise the various conflicting claims. 



UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



00026861370